Suns 108, Timberwolves 101: Couldn’t care less vs. Could care less


One of the things that drives me crazy is when people say, “I could care less” when they really mean to say, “I couldn’t care less.” It typically takes all of my willpower not to correct it, just because I’m that cool and I want people to stop saying things like “I could care less” and the word “conversate.” I’m not terribly into grammar in conversation form. If I ask someone how they’re doing and they say “good” then I’ll match them with a “good” instead of an “I’m well.”

But the “could care less” thing I can barely handle. I wanted to know how we got to this point in our society’s conversational devolution, so I did a little research. Turns out “couldn’t care less” is a British saying, first recognized in print form in 1901. But somehow it didn’t make its way over to the U.S. until the late 1940’s. Prior to that moment, Americans could care a lot less about a lot of things.

It’s believed in the 1960’s that “couldn’t care less” started getting converted into “could care less.” It appeared that as experimentation with drugs and free will in our society started taking over from the hardened days of short-sleeved dress shirts with ties into clothes made of hemp, we started getting lazier with our speech. Some people theorize that “could care less” came about because of a rise in sarcasm, and that dropping the negative was actually designed to add emphasis.

The change can be related to almost a self-deprecating manner of talking. It gets related to a Yiddish quality of “I should be so lucky” in which the person actually doesn’t have said luck or “tell me about it” in which the person has no intention of actually wanting the other party in the conversation to tell them about it.

Others think it was just people getting a phrase wrong through general laziness and once it took off then there was no stopping it. In reality, “could care less” simply doesn’t add emphasis to anything in the way it’s intended. It means something is bothering you to a degree you’re not intending to convey. What you really want to say is that something is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things that it’s impossible to care less about it. In fact, you can’t care at all. That’s why the distinction between “couldn’t care less” and “could care less” is so important because the delivery of speech is the proper way to display our emotions, which is a release on so many psychological levels for us.

I was thinking about this a lot during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ matinee loss to the Phoenix Suns. Mostly because it was a far more entertaining mental exercise to keep repeating “careless” in my mind with as many emphases as possible than to watch the lazily carefree nature of the Wolves taking care of the ball. Finding ways to deconstruct the word “careless” eventually led me to thinking about the pet peeve of “couldn’t care less” vs. “could care less” and it was refreshingly more annoying than what was happening in the game.

The vitriol is at peak levels at the moment, or so it seems. Bill addressed it in his recap of the previous game. We’re far past the anger for David Kahn, or maybe I’m just privy to a larger cross-section now than in those days. Or maybe the years have just piled up on each other like a column of brain-hungry zombies climbing each other to clear a wall and latching onto a low-flying helicopter to bring it down into the terror. Maybe the years should get blurred together — rebuilding efforts all being classified as the same because the two constants in these equations are the building they reside in and the owner who resides over them.

Personally, this rebuild looks much different to me than the other rebuilds did, in a way that is far more encouraging looking at the larger picture than discouraging looking at the short-term and the ghosts of rebuilds’ past. I have my theories on why this vitriol exists, but that’s probably something to flesh out at another time.

The Wolves were never going to win this game against the Suns the way they came out. I don’t know if the carelessness on the floor was a result of great defense by Phoenix or the early start time throwing off the body clocks of everybody involved or just one of those days in which nothing clicks. Heading into this game, the Wolves had just three games in which they turned the ball over 18 times or more. Say what you want about Sam Mitchell (actually, let’s hold off on that) but his teams don’t typically turn the ball over.

Minnesota had 18 turnovers in the second and third quarters combined, which led to 35 points. That was the moment in which they lost this game. The help defense in this game was horrendous. The players looked confused on when to help, where to help from, and how to traverse the pick-and-roll coverage. Andrew Wiggins played the worst defensive game I can remember from him. Karl-Anthony Towns seemed lost on which side of the screen he should be covering when the Suns ran a high pick-and-roll. And on top of all that, the Wolves couldn’t hold onto the ball.

When the game got close, many people wanted the starters back in because the victory seemed to be within range. I’d argue their malaise had decided the game in the first place. The bench that brought them back was left in and while the Suns’ unit switched from high risk, high reward to a much steadier option, the Wolves stuck with the date that brought them back to that dance.

This is where I think Wolves fans or the vitriolic few on social media could and should probably care less. I think every game is a lesson for all parties involved — the players, the organization, the coaches, and the people watching. You can take something out of every game and apply it toward our knowledge of what this team is and where it’s going and how it intends to get there. If the matinee game was indeed winnable in the final couple of minutes (which I don’t believe it was) and Mitchell sacrificed the result as a teaching moment, I’m fine with that.

I’m not fine with how they got to that moment. I don’t know how you stop your team from playing poor defense and giving the ball to the other team in the middle of the game without subbing players out. But it felt like Mitchell could or should have done something (I beg you not to focus on this part of the recap and really pay attention to the entire message whether you agree with it or not) to alter the flow of the game. Maybe that’s where the limited offensive system comes into play, or again maybe it was just one of those bad games that every team seems to go through at least a few times a year.

Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio and Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t play in the fourth, and I’m actually fine with this, even when the game got close. If you don’t care to have the focus to execute in the first 36 minutes, why do you get to play in the fourth? Why do you get that automatic sub-in? Why shouldn’t you always have to prove you belong on the floor through execution?

That’s the long-term approach I want the Wolves and any team in development to take. It’s not that I couldn’t care less about the result of the game. It’s that I think we should care less about the result of the individual moments and look at the build-up of those individual lessons and where it could take the direction of this team. We’ll see the young guys learn from this mistake of a game. We’ll hopefully see more focus in the next contest. And while I know a few are shaking their heads and assuming I’m “letting Sam off the hook” for mistakes in the game and every game, I’m much more of a big picture person than someone desperate for victories now after more than a decade of disappointment.

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11 Responsesso far.

  1. gjk says:

    “Conversate” drives me nuts as well, along with “comfortableness” or “comfortability.” Stop making words longer and more complex than they actually are.

  2. pyrrol says:

    This game was disgusting.

    I’m not sure what there is to learn from this game. It appeared like an effort issue, like the guys weren’t trying, but I’m sure they were. What important lesson are they going to extract from it?

    The way I see it, this was upsetting for fans on a couple of levels. For one, you expect teams to drop an egg now and again—even good teams. But we’ve been dropping too many games we should be winning suddenly, after doing a better job of nabbing wins early in the season. The NBA is so good recently. Aside from a few train wrecks (Philly LAL) every team is talented and tough. We don’t have a lot of bad teams to pick on, and the Suns are one of the few teams out west we should probably beat, and we certainly should compete against. It wasn’t a good time to lay an egg. There are too many tough teams out there–we need to beat teams like the Suns on a consistent basis to avoid going into a spiral of losing type season again.

    Which brings me to the second level on which I think this loss bothers fans. This rebuild (two # ones!) is different. But we fans are scarred by years of seamlessly connected rebuilds. Until we shipped off Love for Wiggins, they seemed like one big rebuild to me. What fans saw in this game is a throwback to some very bad years of fruitless bad teams, teams that were supposed to be building but didn’t, teams that were supposed to learn from bad play and getting their tails beat, and didn’t. This looked like many an effort from those teams. Our false start rebuilds didn’t have our current talent level (which makes losses like this rage inducing) but we don’t want to share their culture of helpless, endless losing. The buck should stop this season. We should be able to be .500-ish for the season, at least, to show empirically that this time is different.

    I have no problem with Sam not bringing the starters back in this time. Basically, he went with what worked. You have to earn your minutes, but at the same time Sam’s leash tactics and punishing with playing time has not worked, so I look at this as simply going with the only lineup that showed spark, rather than discipline for the starters. I hope Sam at least learned that we should put in Miller when we need him (most games) instead of DNP-ing him.

    This is a baseless instinct I have: It feels like Sam likes certain players and thus trusts them inexplicably while being almost suspicious of others. He doesn’t seem to like Rubio that much, and his system hog ties Rubio’s best abilities. He keeps Towns on a pretty short leash, considering, and seems to like Deing, even though in all honestly, Towns has been more consistent throughout the season. He doesn’t seem to have an appreciation for Miller, while LaVine’s leash seems twice as long as anyone else’s on the team. I’m worried about the Rubio thing in particular. Rubio needs support–he’s the type of player who is too hard on himself, and needs a coach who has his back. Bluntly, Sam is not putting Rubio in a position to succeed. Rubio has so many skills that he plays through it, but we aren’t maximizing our talent this way. In fact, in too many ways this team is starting to minimize its talent, and in doing so it is beginning to resemble recent failed rebuilds.

    • sportsbygreg says:

      I guess it’s not to much to add after that debacle. I need a previous statement I said that I’ve learned to lower my expectations for this team but now they are completely gone. I refuse to lose all my hair over this team. Obviously, as you stated, the defense and carelessness with the ball was poor at best. Like I said this is a team that doesn’t know how to stop the bleeding, and hate to say it, but don’t be surprised if it continues tomorrow night. It just is what it is with this team. I’m like you in the fact not to harp on Mitchell about yesterday but I do have a gripe about how he uses Wiggins on offense this season. Why doesn’t he post up anymore? He had seemed to almost master that last year and would either score or get fouled. Now he just has the guy running around like he’s freaking Reggie Miller. I understand he wants to develop different parts of his game, but use his strengths as well and make it easier on yourself Sam. Put the guy on the damn block more! And I agree he sacked yesterday and basically has been lately. Honestly, not to hate on Kevin Martin because he is one of the few we have that can put the ball in the hole… I still think LaVine should be starting at the two and let Kobe Martin come off the bench. Zach is NOT a point gourd and I seriously think the guy can be a superstar. He has that ability. I mean, the season is already almost in the toilet again-may as well turn him loose, alongside Rubio, Wiggins and Towns. And let Bazz and Kevin Martin come off the bench for your scoring punch. Hell, if he’s so he’ll bent on not playing Miller, bring Trustees Jones up and throw him into the fire. I think he can be special as well and let him start gelling with this talented young core, even though he’s not crazy athletic. The young man is a great leader and a proven winner… who can also shoot and nail the three. The guy had one bad preseason game and Sam pretty much gave up on him. I understand everyone can’t play but I think this guy can help (even as a rookie) more than some might think. Well I guess I did have something to say after all. Lol

  3. sportsbygreg says:

    Typo-I made a previous statement Typo-heed sucked yestetday.

  4. sportsbygreg says:

    Typo-gaurd.. Kevin not Kobe. Lol

  5. sportsbygreg says:

    TYUS JONES. Hey, I type too fast and my phone doesn’t cooperate. And need to proof read before sendind. Peace and my bad. Lol

  6. sportsbygreg says:


  7. PetoSeto says:

    So you say development is more important than wins? Tell me about that in february, when we are out of playoffs. I “couldn’t care less” about wins then. Try new thing, learn things, develop players – no problem. But now, I really care about wins, about playing your best players when it matters most, about doing so many misteakes that you literally give the W to your opponent.

    Westbrook, Lillard, Lowry, Curry, Knight/Bledsoe … too many point coming from the opponets PG and our defence still can do nothing with it.
    Rudez needs to play more. Maybe not so good at defence or rebounding but his shooting is still worth playing him more minutes.

  8. Marshall Andersen DVM says:

    Great recap. I agree with most everything. I as well are very patient, and the way you framed this game made the disappointment a little less impacting. I wonder though, does the organization still believe in ricky?

  9. Murraymilitia says:

    I’m going to get skewered for this one but here it goes…does it seem like we’re trying to ensure losing enough games (coaching games wise) to keep our pick? It does turn into a 2nd rounder next year so it is a big difference. Also, say we get #8, does that plus throwing in Bazzy or Dieng bump us up a couple spots to get another core piece? I know the decade and-one of not making the playoffs stings but I think it would be worse to get the 8th seed, get pounded by 30/game by the Warriors and Sam gets a 3 year deal since he “led us to the playoffs.” I dunno…fire away.

  10. Tom says:

    Does Ricky still believe in this organization? I see an offense that is lazy and not willing to create openings for Rubio to find them for catch and shoot. I see a lot of one-on-one and long dribbling periods that lead to a rushed bad shot. I see Kevin Martin shooting all the time, whether he has a shot or not. I see lackadaisical effort at the free throw line in key moments. What I want to see (and hopefully Sam does too) is the kind of passing and sharing done by the Spurs. Watched the Spurs vs. Utah and saw a good Utah team reduced to running around trying to catch up to the ball passing from one side to the other. Obviously, Spurs are a mature, well-coached squad that knows what works. When the team is passing the ball and moving, Ricky is great and the team creates large leads. However, then they go to me-ball, the leads disappear, or like Sunday never materialize. It is much easier to pass the ball, when you haven’t dribbled yourself into trouble. This team needs an identity and being the Young Spurs would be a great way to start.

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